3 extremists found guilty of plotting biggest UK attack
3 extremists found guilty of plotting biggest UK attack
Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, were convicted of being “central figures” in an Islamist extremist plot to set off eight rucksack bombs and possibly other timed devices in crowded areas.
The three men, all from Birmingham, central England, had denied charges of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts during their trial at Woolwich Crown Court in London.
Despite a series of bungles by the conspirators, police said it was the most significant terror plan uncovered in Britain since the 2006 plot to blow up transatlantic airliners using bombs in drinks bottles.
Two of the men — Naseer and Khalid — traveled to Pakistan for terror training while Naseer also helped others to travel to the country for the same purpose, the court heard.
The group were heavily influenced by the teachings of American-born Al-Qaeda preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was killed by a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011, police said.
Naseer was found guilty of five charges, Khalid four, and Ali three, all between December 25, 2010 and September 19, 2011.
Six other Birmingham men aged between 21 and 26 pleaded guilty to terror offenses at an earlier date.
Judge Richard Henriques said Naseer, Khalid and Ali will face life in prison when they are sentenced in April or May.
He told Naseer: “You were seeking to recruit a team of somewhere between six and eight suicide bombers to carry out a spectacular bombing campaign, one which would create an anniversary along the lines of 7/7 or 9/11.”
In Britain’s deadliest ever suicide bombing, three Islamist attackers blew themselves up on London’s subway system and another on a bus on July 7, 2005, killing 52 people.
Al-Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington left nearly 3,000 people dead.
Karen Jones, the prosecutor in the case of Naseer, Khalid and Ali, said that while their “precise targets remained unclear” there could have been “catastrophic” damage and loss of life from the plot.
“The evidence we put to the court showed the defendants discussing with awe and admiration the attacks of 9/11 and 7/7. These terrorists wanted to do something bigger, speaking of how 7/7 had ‘gone a bit wrong’,” Jones said after the verdicts.
“Having traveled to Pakistan for expert training and preparation, Naseer and Khalid returned to the UK where they discussed attacks involving up to eight rucksacks.
“Had they not been stopped, the consequences would have been catastrophic.”
Led by Naseer, an unemployed pharmacy graduate nicknamed Chubbs because of his weight, the group tried to fund the plot by posing as street collectors for the charity Muslim Aid and managed to raise £12,000 ($18,400, 13,700 euros).
But the group then lost three quarters of that sum while playing the foreign currency markets and had to take out loans, the trial heard.
British domestic intelligence agency MI5 recorded them discussing the plot during the 18-month investigation before they were arrested while headed for a takeaway meal in September 2011.
During the surveillance Naseer was heard talking about mixing poison into creams such as Vaseline or Nivea and smearing them on car handles to kill people, and about welding blades to a truck and driving it into people.
Naseer and Khalid were also recorded reminiscing about a time at the training camp in Pakistan when a “Pakistani guy, AQ (Al-Qaeda) guy” told them to hide under a tree for four hours to avoid a US drone flying overhead.
“Underneath the tree, the drone can’t detect you, innit,” Naseer said.
“So I’m lying underneath the tree innit, and the drones are right about me bro, and it’s going (makes a sound like a drone) and I’m thinking any minute it’s going to fire a missile,” Naseer said.
Rights court dismisses Breivik’s complaint about jail conditions
- Norwegian officials have repeatedly rejected allegations that Breivik is isolated, arguing that he is treated as a “VIP prisoner” and has regular contact with prison staff, his lawyer and visitors
- Breivik has the use of three cells, each measuring more than 10 square meters and equipped with a television, computer, DVD player and gym gear
STRASBOURG: The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday dismissed a complaint by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik over his prison conditions, ending a long-running saga that kept him in the public eye, tormenting his victims.
Breivik is serving a 21-year sentence for the July 2011 massacre of 77 people, most of them teenagers gunned down while attending a Labour Party youth camp on the small island of Utoeya.
The far-right, anti-Islam extremist took his case to the ECHR after Norway’s Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal last year against a ruling that his near-isolation in a three-room cell respected his human rights.
His lawyer argued that the prison conditions breached articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the former prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment, the latter guarantees a right to privacy and family life.
“His state (of mind) is deteriorating,” his lawyer Oystein Storrvik told AFP. “He is no longer able to study for example.”
But the court based in Strasbourg said that “its examination of the case did not reveal any violations of the Convention, and rejected the application as inadmissible for being manifestly ill-founded.”
Norwegian officials have repeatedly rejected allegations that Breivik is isolated, arguing that he is treated as a “VIP prisoner” and has regular contact with prison staff, his lawyer and visitors.
He has the use of three cells, each measuring more than 10 square meters and equipped with a television, computer, DVD player and gym gear. He has no Internet connection, however.
Survivors of the Utoeya massacre expressed satisfaction at the ruling.
“It’s a relief. We’re hoping not to hear his name again for many years to come,” Lisbeth Kristine Royneland, the head of a victims’ support group whose 18-year-old daughter was killed by Breivik, told AFP.
Writing on Twitter, a survivor of the massacre, Tore Remi Christensen, wrote: “The Breivik case is rejected in Strasbourg. Delighted. May he and all those who share his shitty message rot in hell.”
Breivik’s killing spree began on July 22, 2011, when he set off a bomb outside a government building in Oslo, killing eight people.
Disguised as a police officer and armed with a semi-automatic rifle and pistol, he then went to Utoya where the Labour Party was holding a youth camp, killing 69.
During his trial the extremist, who has changed his name to Fjotolf Hansen, repeatedly addressed the courts with Nazi salutes and complained about the cold coffee and frozen meals served in prison, among other things.
His sentence can be extended indefinitely if judges determine he remains a threat to society.